PORTAGE COUNTY -- The deputy director of the Portage County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management died Tuesday night following a one-car crash on Interstate 76 in Tallmadge.
John Mason, 57, was on his way home from work and was driving westbound on I-76 when his car went off the left side of the road and hit a wire barrier.
Tallmadge firefighters took Mason to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It is believed that Mason had a medical problem just prior to the crash.
Mason, who is survived by his wife, son, and daughter, was also a captain and the EMS coordinator for the Suffield Fire Department.
In a press release, Portage County officials expressed remorse over Mason's sudden death, calling him a highly regarded staff member, extremely knowledgeable about emergency management issues.
Mason had over 30 years experience in fire and emergency medical services as a provider, educator, and manager, over 25 years involvement with local, state and federal governmental agencies related to fire and emergency medical services, and extensive involvement with local and state emergency management agencies writing emergency operations plans, grants and developing and carrying out emergency drills and exercises for the county, hospitals, fire, EMS, HazMat and law enforcement agencies.
He previously worked at Robinson Memorial Hospital where he was EMS Coordinator managing the EMS Medical Control program and was an instructor at Maplewood Career Center in EMT/Fire.
In addition to his extensive duties with the county, he was also a captain and the EMS coordinator for the Suffield Fire Department as well as an EMT paramedic.
"John was a very dedicated member of our county team whose vast knowledge of emergency management programs and issues and conducting all aspects of emergency exercises was critical to the overall safety and security of our citizens. He will be greatly missed," Chris Smeiles, President of the Portage County Board of Commissioners said.
Mason had received numerous awards and recognition from the state of Ohio EMA. He had also developed and coordinated many emergency management programs and exercises for other counties, often volunteering his time to assist townships and other agencies with EMA grant writing and training.
"John Mason was Emergency Management," Jon Barber, Director of the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said. "With him on this team it made us great. He understood the operation and how it needed to work for the citizens of Portage County. He never forgot who he worked for, the people of this county, and worked tirelessly as their advocate to see that they would be protected in any type of emergency. His passing leaves a huge hole in this organization that will be tough to fill."